Saturday, January 12, 2008

Vertical Axis Wind Turbines

In the last post on Power, VAWTs (Vertical Axis Wind Turbines) were mentioned as a potential power source for an Antarctic colony. This post will attempt to elaborate on that technology.

Below is a basic design of a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine.

At low wind speeds traditional HAWTs (Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines) are more efficient. However, at higher wind speeds VAWTs can be up to 8 times more efficient than HAWTs.

VAWTs can also withstand much higher winds, with some commercial models being rated to withstand winds in excess of 140mph. At those wind speeds most traditional bladed horizontal turbines would break or suffer damage. VAWTs on the other hand can continue to produce power even in those high wind conditions without risk of damage if they are designed and constructed properly.

A specially modified Vertical Axis Wind Turbine would be ideal for power production in Antarctica. Such a VAWT would be able to withstand the most extreme winds without breakage. A built-in self-powering defroster would help prevent the exposed areas from freezing up or being damaged from extreme blizzard conditions and excessive ice buildup. Such a system could use it's own power channeled through small heated wires running along the structure and critical components. This in theory would not take a great deal of power and would most likely only need to run occasionally. It would only need to produce enough heat to melt the offending ice and snow.

Considering the high and fairly constant winds available in some areas of Antarctica, a higher than normal output efficiency would likely be easily achievable with the right gearing. This high output would hopefully provide a great deal of extra power to heat a colony and also help to compensate for low wind periods.

Details of a thermal energy storage and heat recycling/recovery system will follow in future posts. Such systems would greatly improve the overall energy efficiency of an Antarctic colony.

Above and to the left is a traditional Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine, with a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine on the right.


Rebiu said...

Wind turbines for the arctic will most likely be different than than what we have seen so far. They may be smaller and stronger to handle the high winds. If the winds have a consistent direction then the turbines could be fixed in on orientation and made a great deal stronger. I am a big fan of tethered flying wind turbines.

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